You know a healthy lawn when you see it: a smooth, lush green carpet, perfect for playing baseball and golf. So why doesn’t your lawn look like that? To get a perfect lawn you may have to change your mindset. The basics are pretty simple: sun, water and fertilizer. Once you get those down, you and your lawn will be happy. Here are a few basic tips on how to get started.
Your soil condition is a perfect place to start. No matter which planting method you plan to use, you need to prepare the area thoroughly to remove weeds and make sure your soil doesn’t immediately crust over or compact into lumpy ruts. Getting a pH sample and taking it to a local testing plant is a step many gardeners skip. You can also find do it yourself tests at local garden centers. Adding a top dressing or compost to your soil will ensure proper natural nutrients to your soil.
To seed or not to seed? No question rolling out a carpet of sod is the quickest way to a beautiful lawn. Sod can get expensive especially if your lawn is going to cover a large area. The alternative is seeding the area yourself, either by hand or by a method called hydroseeding. Hydroseeding will evenly disperse the seeds and is mixed with wood fibers, fertilizers and binding agents to make it more difficult for wind and animals to remove your seed.
Grass types. Here in the Midwest we have a few types of grass seed to choose from. My personal choice is a tall fescue mix. Tall fescue is a cold season grass which means it will begin to green up much quicker in the season then warm season choices such as Zoysia and Bermuda grass. Warm season grasses are usually the thickest and greenest in the mid- summer months. If you’re trying to grow grass in shady areas, bluegrass and a fine fescue would be your choice.
Even the healthiest lawn gets hungry and needs a solid meal. Twice per year, spring and fall, is the most recommended time for fertilization, though some add a feeding in the middle of the summer. Be aware of the N-P-K (nitrogen- phosphate-potassium) analysis as some fertilizers with a high nitrogen number could burn your lawn in the hot summer months. As your lawn gets more mature, mixing in a pre-emergent weed control is recommended. Remember the best type of weed control is a thick healthy lawn.
For newly seeded lawns, water every day for five to ten minutes. Your goal is to dampen the seeds without causing runoff that might wash the seeds away. After the seeds sprout and new grass is a half inch tall, water once a day for fifteen to twenty minutes. Please keep in mind your lawn is like you and needs to have to water be healthy and survive. When you have a mature thick lawn, remember to keep watering. The rule of thumb is to water once a week but water deep. A weekly soaking helps roots extend deeper into the soil, while frequent shallow watering tend to lead to thatch, that unsightly web of dry brown runners just above the soil.
I hope these basic tips will help you keep up with the Jones’s and give you a thick and green lawn that would make a golf course envy.